Corporations call on US Secretary of State to prioritize women and girls

A letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the importance of investing in women and girls in US foreign policy and development assistance has been signed by nearly 50 corporate executives.

In response to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's plans to get rid of dozens of special envoys as part of his reorganization of the diplomatic corps, business leaders from major American companies are asking the Trump administration to quickly name an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

Signatories including CEO's from Accenture, Calvin Klein, Footlocker, Tommy Hilfiger, and Urban Decay to name a few, are calling for the selection of qualified and experienced candidates for key leadership positions that focus on empowering women and girls globally, and for the swift nomination and confirmation of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the US Department of State.

The ambassador leads the State Department office dedicated to women’s rights and empowerment, and like numerous positions in the Trump administration, it is currently vacant. Business and NGO leaders are concerned that a continuing delay in making an appointment will send a negative message about the Trump administration's priorities.

Their joint letter is supported by the “Big Ideas for Women and Girls” Coalition, which includes a range of leading charities including Equality Now, OXFAM, PLAN International USA, Save the Children USA, and Women for Women International.

The Honorable Rex Wayne Tillerson
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

As private sector leaders and supporters of inclusive economic growth, we are grateful for your efforts to promote global prosperity. We also appreciate your leadership as CEO of ExxonMobil focusing on the economic empowerment of women and girls globally.

We write you today to affirm the importance of making the empowerment of women and girls around the world a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy and development assistance. During this time as the Department of State considers ways to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in U.S. investments, we encourage you to continue a global focus on empowering women and girls. This will not only expand economic opportunities and develop critical job skills for women and girls, it will also help to build markets for U.S. goods and services. In short, investments in women and girls bring high returns for economic growth, societal well-being, and global stability.

We believe that investing in women and girls is essential to our long-term success for the following reasons:

1. It Expands Opportunities for U.S. Businesses: The empowerment of women and girls leads to sustainable economic growth, the expansion of consumer markets, and democratic governance. A 2015 McKinsey Global Institute study found that full participation of women in the global economy would increase annual GDP in 2025 by $28 trillion, or 26 percent.

2. It Bolsters U.S. National Security and Global Stability*: Evidence shows that investment in programs that enhance opportunities for women and girls increases global security and stability. The Institute for Economics and Peace calculated that for every $1 spent on peacebuilding, the costs of responding to conflict are decreased by $16. Women’s meaningful involvement in peace processes also leads to longer lasting peace agreements, stability, and economic prosperity. More stable environments lower risk for U.S. businesses operating overseas.*

3. It Demonstrates U.S. Leadership and Values*: Having strong and qualified champions for women and girls in the U.S. government sends a message that the United States will continue to be a key leader in this area. The opportunities that we provide for women and girls give them the tools and ability to create better lives for their families and communities.*

To help ensure that this work is integrated across our diplomatic and development efforts, we strongly urge you to quickly select qualified and experienced candidates for key leadership positions that focus on empowering women and girls globally. The swift nomination (and confirmation) of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State and the ongoing support for the USAID leadership focused on the empowerment of women and girls will help harness untapped potential as the U.S. seeks to achieve its foreign policy goals.

Julie Sweet, U.S. CEO, Accenture
John W. Rowe, MD, Former Chairman and CEO, Aetna Inc.
Ronald A. Williams, Former Chairman and CEO, Aetna Inc
David Jaffe, Chairman and CEO, ascena Retail Group Inc.
Gary Muto, President and CEO, ascena Brands, ascena Retail Group Inc.
Maxine Clark, Founder and Former CEO, Build-A-Bear Workshop
Steve Shiffman, CEO, Calvin Klein, Inc.
Austin Hearst, CEO, Chestnut Holdings
Victor M. Luis, President and CEO, Coach Inc.
Sean Connolly, CEO, Conagra Brands
Jane Wurwand, Co-Founder, Dermalogica and FITE
Edward Stack, Chairman and CEO, DICK's Sporting Goods
Debra Fine, President, Fine Capital Partners
Richard Johnson, Chairman and CEO, Foot Locker, Inc.
Jon Achenbaum, CEO and President, Freeman Beauty
Morris Goldfarb, Chairman of the Board and CEO, G-III Apparel Group, Ltd
Art Peck, President and CEO, Gap Inc.
Jim Goldman, Former CEO and President, Godiva Chocolatier
Peg McGetrick, Former CEO, Grantham, Mayo von Otterloo & Co. (GMO)
Richard Baker, Governor and Executive Chairman, Hudson's Bay Company
Gregory L Waters, President and CEO, Integrated Device Technology
Marvin R. Ellison, Chairman and CEO, JCPenney Corporation
Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson
Kevin Mansell, Chairman, President and CEO, Kohl's
Jeff Gennette, CEO, Macy’s, Inc.
Tracey Massey, President, Americas, Mars Wrigley Confectionery
Ken Frazier, CEO, Merck & Co.
John D. Idol, Chairman and CEO, Michael Kors
Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mondelēz International
Carolyn Tastad, Group President North America, P&G
Joe Keefe, President and CEO, Pax World Management LLC
Ronald J. Wurtzburger, President, Peerless Clothing
Rick Federico, Current Chairman and Former CEO, PF Changs China Bistro
Emanuel "Manny" Chirico, Chairman and CEO, PVH Corp
Dona Young, Former Chairman, President and CEO, The Phoenix Companies
Ken Duane, CEO, PVH Heritage Brands
Linda Rabbitt, Chairwoman and CEO, Rand Construction Corporation
Paul Thomas, Former CEO, Reynolds Packaging Group
Daniel Grieder, CEO, Tommy Hilfiger
Jim Alling, CEO, TOMS
Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Former CEO, TOMS
Mark Mactas, Former CEO and Chairman, Towers Perrin
Mary Dillon, CEO, Ulta Beauty
Wende Zomnir, CCO and Co-Founder, Urban Decay
Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Warby Parker
Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Warby Parker
Brad Irwin, President and CEO, Welch's
Anne Mulcahy, Former Chair and CEO, Xerox

cc: John J. Sullivan, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Mark A. Green, United States Agency for International Development Administrator
Dina Habib Powell, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy
Ivanka M. Trump, Assistant to the President of the United States

About Equality Now:

Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world by combining grassroots activism with international, regional and national legal advocacy. Our international network of lawyers, activists, and supporters achieve legal and systemic change by holding governments responsible for enacting and enforcing laws and policies that end legal inequality, sexual trafficking, sexual violence, and harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

For details of our current campaigns, please visit and find us on Facebook @equalitynoworg and Twitter @equalitynow.

Comments (2)
No. 1-2

This is great work (y)



Great initiative coming from corporate executives! Impressive and applauded!